By: Isabel Smith ~Staff Writer~
Xavier’s men’s basketball returns to action for an exhibition game against Ferris State on Nov. 5 after falling to Wisconsin at the buzzer in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Championship. The Musketeers have moved past the disappointing end to the 2016 season and are prepared to take on the new season.
This year the Musketeers were picked No. 7 in the opening AP Poll, a school record.
The Musketeers also have a good schedule featuring Cincinnati, Creighton and Villanova, three teams on the USA Today Top 25 preseason coaches’ poll.
Xavier’s schedule offers the Musketeers the opportunity to develop and perfect their game before heading into post season play in a few months.
In October, Xavier also landed its highest rank in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll since joining the conference in 2013.
The Musketeers were picked second in the conference. The defending national champions, Villanova, were picked first in the poll.
Junior guard Trevon Bluiett and redshirt sophomore guard Edmond Sumner were named to the Big East Preseason First Team.
The duo was joined by Creighton’s Maurice Watson Jr., Butler’s Kelan Martin and Villanova’s Kris Jenkins, the player who secured the Wildcats’ National Championship victory.
Both Bluiett and Sumner are on award watch lists as well. Bluiett was named to the watch list for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award, named after the 11-time NBA All-Star.
Sumner was named to the watch list for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award, named after the Hall of Famer and Boston Celtics’ legend.
Xavier also has solid additions to the 2016 roster. Freshman forward Tyrique Jones and freshman guard Quentin Goodin join the Musketeers this season.
Head coach Chris Mack said Jones and Goodin “have college ready bodies” and are a valuable asset to Xavier.
Both RaShid Gaston and Malcolm Bernard will also be additions to Xavier’s roster. Gaston sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules and Bernard comes over as a graduate transfer from Florida A&M.
Though the season-ending loss a year ago may leave a bad taste in the mouths of both the team and the fans, there is no reason to believe that this squad can’t come back stronger and better than ever.
The team showed resilience throughout last season, which is a mentality that can undoubtedly have a carry-over affect.
The schedule will be trying, but Mack has instilled a winning culture across his tenure at Xavier that can help prepare this team for a tough season.